Junior dos Santos is officially back. The former champ took a dominant decision victory over former WSOF champ Blagoy Ivanov in the headliner of UFC Boise, and he looked like he hasn’t lost a step. JDS controlled range, used a bunch of different things, and generally controlled the entire fight.
The first two rounds were all JDS, as he walked him down to the cage and lit him up with all sorts of strikes. Ivanov took a punch in the eye in the third, and it seemed to motivate him. He started opening up with a bunch more strikes and taking the center, backing JDS off more than once with big shots. Still though, Dos Santos was using a much more varied game involving kicks and body work. Ivanov got very tired in the fourth, with JDS beginning to sense it by the end of the round.
In the final stanza, Ivanov actually came back to life a bit, trying to at least pressure for the one-hitter quitter. It looked like JDS was trying to line up something flashy to get him out of there, but he never landed it. Overall, Dos Santos led the dance and Ivanov showed off his toughness. Not the best fight, but certainly better than a lot of heavyweight affairs.
- Sage Northcutt got destroyed with Zak Ottow’s first punch of the fight, and it put him down. He was in deep danger for almost four minutes on the ground, eventually getting mounted – and then everything changed. He rose off the mat and lit up Ottow for the rest of the round. Then fought off Ottow’s takedowns in the second and beat the tar out of him, eventually getting a KO victory via ground strikes.
- Northcutt’s takedown defense still needs work, but he looks like he has gained some size and can actually be competitive at 170 now. Good for him.
- Rick Glenn did not beat Dennis Bermudez. He may have taken the first round, and he did land some strikes from the bottom in the next two, but he was taken down six or seven times and totally controlled. He was a bloody mess. And yet he got two scorecards. Unbelievable.
- Niko Price picked up one of the craziest KOs I’ve ever seen. While on the bottom, he tied up Randy Brown’s legs and laid into him with hammerfists to the head as he sat up a bit. And within three, Brown was completely out. It was nuts. If there’s one highlight you want to find from the card, this is it.
- Chad Mendes hasn’t lost any hand speed, that’s for sure. After an uneventful first half of a round, Mendes caught Myles Jury with a massive left and finished him shortly thereafter. He’s another guy that comes right back in at featherweight and can make some major noise.
- Cat Zingano used a strong takedown game to shut down Marion Reneau and pick up a good win. In such a shallow division, she might be one fight from a title shot with that.
- Alejandro Perez won a unanimous decision over Eddie Wineland in a fight where they both missed with a lot of strikes. It was fun, but Wineland dropped Perez in the first and seemed to have a pretty good second. Again, it was an odd decision.
- Darren Elkins is made of the stuff they make tanks out of I think. Alex Volkanovski had him dead to rights in the first, but couldn’t get the finish. It was the definition of a 10-8. Elkins actually fought well in the second and based on stats, you could argue he took it. But he was still hurt very bad and staggering around, so it seems strange to do that. The third was Volkanovski’s, but Elkins held on till the end, which was commendable. The scores (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) were terrible, but the right guy won at least. That didn’t always happen tonight.
- Said Nurmagomedov got the first of many gifts tonight from judges. Justin Scoggins seemed to have easily won the first two rounds. He dropped the third, but he had it in hand – until the judges came back with some wacky ass scores. How the judges gave Nurmagomedov the first is beyond me – but tonight was horrible for judging.
- Elias Garcia got off to a very good start in his fight with Mark De La Rosa. In a very unique sequence, De La Rosa caught a kick and Garcia jumped him, looking to lock up a triangle. So basically De La Rosa just helicopter swung him around and around until he fell off. That was a lot of fun. There were a couple of good sub attempts too. But in the second, De La Rosa took over, and all he needed was one opening to get Garcia’s back and sink a choke. I think both guys have a lot of potential.
- Jessica Aguilar and Jodie Esquibel opened the night with a spirited contest that mostly took place on the fight. Both landed good shots and had good accountings of themselves, but Aguilar came out on top (which I agreed with). Like almost every other fight that went to a decision though, there was one screwy card – a 30-27 JAG that made no sense.
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